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Malta ‘is Blackwater’s operational base’ – MEP report

by Noel Gri­ma
The [Mal­ta] Inde­pen­dent Online

A Euro­pean Par­lia­ment work­ing doc­u­ment drawn up by Gio­van­ni Clau­dio Fava has claimed “Mal­ta is the oper­a­tional base of Black­wa­ter, the organ­is­er of pri­vate mil­i­tary mili­tia which are increas­ing­ly tak­ing on more and more roles which used to be under­tak­en by US forces in Iraq and else­where”.

Amer­i­can left-wing and anti-war media are in full cry about the under­hand and sub­tle changes, which have made Black­wa­ter the new sym­bol of Amer­i­can claimed suprema­cy, car­ried out by forces oth­er than the reg­u­lar mil­i­tary.

Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Hen­ry Wax­man has been hold­ing a num­ber of hear­ings on the spread of Black­wa­ter but even they, the more anti-war media claims, have held back from see­ing the whole wide pic­ture.

Thus the four-hour inter­ro­ga­tion of Black­wa­ter direc­tor Eric Prince got lost in details, even dis­cov­er­ing for instance a Decem­ber 2006 “arrange­ment” nego­ti­at­ed by the State Depart­ment as com­pen­sa­tion for an Iraqi police­man killed by a Black­wa­ter employ­ee.

But it was only Repub­li­can Dar­rell Issa from Cal­i­for­nia who doc­u­ment­ed the inti­mate links between Prince and the Bush admin­is­tra­tion. On the eve of the hear­ings, Oliv­er North, the for­mer colonel who had been con­demned for exchang­ing arms with cocaine in the fight against com­mu­nism in Nicaragua, accused Sen­a­tor Wax­man of a huge “witch-hunt”.

Den­nis Kucinich, a Demo­c­rat from Ohio, argued that since the mil­i­tary func­tions had been pri­va­tised, it was in Blackwater’s inter­est to pro­long the war, rather than end it.

An arti­cle on Salon.com car­ried the charges by Jere­my Scahill that the Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ists behind Black­wa­ter were the hard core in favour of the war of George Bush and Dick Cheney and their “patron”, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State George Schultz.

Eric Prince’s par­ents, Edgar Prince and his wife Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, through their foun­da­tion finance the Coun­cil for Nation­al Pol­i­cy, an ultra-secret soci­ety which met in Salt Lake City on 28 Sep­tem­ber to hear Dick Cjheney argue the case for an attack on Iran.

Prince Senior is one of the pil­lars of Chris­t­ian Coali­tion of Gary Bauer and of the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil of James Dob­son.

Eric Prince, through his own foun­da­tion, the Frei­heit Foun­da­tion, finances Chris­ten­dom Col­lege, the Insti­tute for World Pol­i­tics, Cri­sis Mag­a­zine and the Prison Fel­low­ship of Chuck Col­son. Prince also finances the Legion­naires du Christ and Chris­t­ian Free­dom Inter­na­tion­al.

When still 27 years old, Eric Prince found­ed Black­wa­ter USA. He and those who soon joined him have prof­it­ed from the more than $1,000 mil­lion they have tak­en as con­tracts from 2000 to 2006.

In 2004, Cofer Black passed from CIA to the State Depart­ment and thence became Blackwater’s vice-pres­i­dent. While still in the CIA, Black was in charge of the “spe­cial extra­di­tions” organ­is­ing the secret trans­fer of pris­on­ers from Iraq or Afghanistan to coun­tries less rigid against the prac­tice of tor­ture, such as Poland, Roma­nia, Egypt, and so on.

These planes, which trav­elled between Abu Ghraib, Guan­tanamo and Afghanistan often made stopovers in many Euro­pean coun­tries such as the UK, Italy, France, Ger­many and Mal­ta many times with­out the coun­tries them­selves being informed what was going on.

Now the Swiss procu­ra­tor Dick Mar­ty has sent doc­u­ments regard­ing the “CIA’s fly­ing pris­ons” to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and names two Black­wa­ter sub­sidiaries – Pres­i­den­tial Air­ways and Avi­a­tion World­wide Ser­vices.

The Gio­van­ni Clau­dio Fava doc­u­ment on behalf of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment says the two com­pa­nies used CASA C‑212 planes, usu­al­ly used to trans­port para­troops and big car­goes and also able to land on impro­vised land­ing spots.


One comment for “Malta ‘is Blackwater’s operational base’ – MEP report”

  1. You have to won­der how much this deci­sion was prompt­ed by aus­ter­i­ty and how much of it is just that gen­er­al impulse coun­tries seem to have to sell them­selves out to the super-rich: Mal­ta has start­ing sell­ing cit­i­zen­ship to wealthy indi­vid­u­als. The orig­i­nal plan, which came under EU crit­i­cism, did­n’t actu­al­ly require res­i­den­cy in Mal­ta to gain cit­i­zen­ship. Just the cash. But now that a one year res­i­den­cy require­ment has been added, Mal­ta is open for busi­ness:

    The New York Times
    Cit­i­zen­ship-for-Cash Pro­gram in Mal­ta Stirs Secu­ri­ty Con­cerns in Euro­pean Union

    PARIS — A pro­gram in Mal­ta that offers cit­i­zen­ship for cash is rais­ing con­cern among offi­cials who fear it could open a back door into Europe and the Unit­ed States for swindlers, crim­i­nals or ter­ror­ists who can afford the price tag of up to $1.57 mil­lion.

    The pro­gram, which was begun in Feb­ru­ary, has already attract­ed inter­est from hun­dreds of appli­cants, includ­ing Chi­nese bil­lion­aires, wealthy Rus­sians and exec­u­tives from coun­tries like Sau­di Ara­bia, Iraq, Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates and Libya.

    Cit­ing wor­ries about secu­ri­ty, oppo­si­tion lead­ers in Mal­ta, a Mediter­ranean island 50 miles south of Sici­ly, moved last month to block the plan. But the motion was defeat­ed and the gov­ern­ing Labour Par­ty, which has a large major­i­ty, is forg­ing ahead with the pro­gram, which it hopes will raise $1.9 bil­lion for devel­op­ment projects and job cre­ation.

    Though Mal­tese offi­cials say the plan will attract for­eign invest­ment and lift the econ­o­my, crit­ics fear that in a race for cash, the screen­ing process will be short­changed — par­tic­u­lar­ly since the tiny nation has out­sourced the vet­ting of cit­i­zen­ship appli­cants to a pri­vate com­pa­ny that stands to make tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in com­mis­sions if appli­cants are accept­ed.

    Euro­pean Union offi­cials are among those most con­cerned. Though sell­ing cit­i­zen­ship out­right is rare, Malta’s move comes as a grow­ing num­ber of Euro­pean coun­tries buf­fet­ed by eco­nom­ic hard times, includ­ing Por­tu­gal, Spain and Greece, are dan­gling the pos­si­bil­i­ty of res­i­den­cy to high-fly­ing for­eign­ers in return for sub­stan­tial invest­ments. The Unit­ed States also offers res­i­den­cy, though not cit­i­zen­ship, for entre­pre­neurs who invest at least $1 mil­lion and meet oth­er cri­te­ria.

    Oppo­nents of the pro­gram in Mal­ta say most poten­tial appli­cants have no inter­est in Mal­ta, per se, but cov­et a Euro­pean Union pass­port, which would allow them to live or work else­where in the union, includ­ing in Lon­don or Paris. Under threat of legal action by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the union’s exec­u­tive body, Mal­ta tight­ened the law in Jan­u­ary and added a one-year res­i­den­cy require­ment before an appli­cant can get a pass­port.


    The cit­i­zen­ship offer — which will enable trav­el with­in the Euro­pean Union’s 27 oth­er mem­ber states and visa-free trips to 69 coun­tries out­side the bloc, includ­ing the Unit­ed States — comes at a steep price: $891,000 in cash, and up to $685,000 in prop­er­ty and invest­ments.

    Offi­cials in the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat reject crit­i­cism that the plan is a get-rich-quick scheme that could expose Europe to a flood of unde­sir­able entrants. “We are not try­ing to make a quick buck,” Kurt Far­ru­gia, a gov­ern­ment spokesman, said in a phone inter­view. “We are a small coun­try, and we want peo­ple to know about us and invest in our coun­try.”

    Mr. Far­ru­gia insist­ed that the screen­ing would be rig­or­ous and that the gov­ern­ment would make the final deci­sion on cit­i­zen­ship for each appli­cant.

    But oppo­nents say they are con­cerned about a poten­tial con­flict of inter­est in the vet­ting process, which is being sub­con­tract­ed chiefly to Hen­ley & Part­ners, a con­sult­ing firm based in the British Chan­nel Islands. The com­pa­ny is both recruit­ing appli­cants and exam­in­ing them to weed out crim­i­nals, ter­ror­ists and oth­er ques­tion­able char­ac­ters.

    Eric G. Major, the chief exec­u­tive of Hen­ley & Part­ners, said in a tele­phone inter­view that Iran­ian and Syr­i­an appli­cants would not be accept­ed because of the inter­na­tion­al sanc­tions imposed against those coun­tries. He said those inter­est­ed in the pro­gram came main­ly from coun­tries from which trav­el is restrict­ed.

    “They can get the trav­el mon­key off of their backs,” Mr. Major said. Those with murky pasts, he added emphat­i­cal­ly, need not apply.

    Under its con­tract with the gov­ern­ment, Hen­ley gets a 4 per­cent com­mis­sion on the $891,000 fee. It will also charge client fees of $96,000 for each appli­cant. After vet­ting appli­cants, Iden­ti­ty Mal­ta, a gov­ern­ment agency, will make a final deci­sion based on Henley’s rec­om­men­da­tion. Hen­ley will get its com­mis­sion only if an appli­cant is accept­ed.

    Mr. Major said there was no con­flict of inter­est because Hen­ley had cre­at­ed a strict sep­a­ra­tion between the depart­ments doing mar­ket­ing and vet­ting.


    So-called gold­en pass­port or res­i­den­cy pro­grams have long faced con­tro­ver­sy, immi­gra­tion experts say, includ­ing ques­tions about mon­ey laun­der­ing and fraud. Cana­da, cit­ing wide­spread abus­es, announced last month that it would scrap a pro­gram that had offered per­ma­nent res­i­den­cy to for­eign­ers who gave the gov­ern­ment a $730,000, inter­est-free loan for five years.

    Some peo­ple with crim­i­nal records have slipped through the cracks in coun­tries offer­ing immi­grant invest­ment pro­grams.

    The Inter­net entre­pre­neur Kim Dot­com, who is want­ed in the Unit­ed States on charges of copy­right infringe­ment com­mit­ted by his now-defunct file-shar­ing com­pa­ny, Megau­pload, was grant­ed New Zealand res­i­den­cy in 2010. He had invest­ed about $8 mil­lion in a pro­gram for wealthy for­eign­ers, despite con­vic­tions for insid­er trad­ing and fraud in his native Ger­many. In 2012, he was arrest­ed in Auck­land at the request of Unit­ed States offi­cials, and he is now fight­ing an attempt to extra­dite him.

    So Hen­ley & Part­ners works for a fixed fee of $96,000 per client plus a 4% com­mis­sion only paid on approved appli­cants? What could go wrong?

    It is pret­ty con­ve­nient for Mal­ta to use a firm like Hen­ley & Part­ners that nor­mal­ly sells ser­vices to clients look­ing to buy cit­i­zen­ship. After all, If the client does­n’t get accept­ed by Mal­ta, Hen­ley & Part­ners is quite capa­ble of direct­ing the appli­cant towards the many oth­er coun­tries sell­ing cit­i­zen­ship. It’s a mar­ket where expert advice is need­ed because there are a sur­pris­ing num­ber of sell­ers and each has their own expen­sive hoops to expen­sive­ly jump through:

    World’s over­looked coun­tries to buy sec­ond cit­i­zen­ship, res­i­den­cy
    By Ramy Inocen­cio, for CNN
    July 5, 2013 — Updat­ed 1003 GMT (1803 HKT)

    Hong Kong (CNN) — Are you jad­ed with your home coun­try, want to pay low­er tax­es, enjoy the free­dom to trav­el and strive for a high­er qual­i­ty of life?

    Well, if you have as lit­tle as $100,000 then you could buy cit­i­zen­ship to a tiny, trop­i­cal Caribbean nation that ticks all of those box­es. Bump an invest­ment up to $5 mil­lion and your qual­i­ty of life could rock­et as you go Down Under; dou­ble that and Vien­nese cof­fee could start your morn­ing rou­tine — with prized access through near­ly all of Europe.

    Aside from obvi­ous coun­tries like the Unit­ed States, Cana­da and the Unit­ed King­dom, who have investor pro­grams and path­ways to cit­i­zen­ship, here’s a list of coun­tries you might have over­looked. They will wel­come you — if you show them the mon­ey.

    1. St. Kitts and Nevis
    Cash for cit­i­zen­ship is an easy con­cept to under­stand. It best applies to just two coun­tries in the world — both of which hap­pen to be in the Caribbean — and is 100% legal and can hap­pen in as lit­tle as a few months.

    The small­est nation in all of the Amer­i­c­as, the island fed­er­a­tion of St. Kitts and Nevis, tempts would-be cit­i­zens with more than just trop­i­cal breezes, sway­ing palm trees and white sand beach­es. It also touts no per­son­al income tax, the allowance for mul­ti­ple cit­i­zen­ship and visa-free access to near­ly 130 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries.

    “Over­all, St. Kitts and Nevis clear­ly offers the most attrac­tive cit­i­zen­ship-by-invest­ment pro­gram avail­able today,” said Hen­ley and Part­ners, a Zurich-based con­sul­tan­cy spe­cial­iz­ing in glob­al res­i­dence and cit­i­zen­ship plan­ning for the past fif­teen years.

    Estab­lished in 1984, St. Kitts and Nevis’ cit­i­zen­ship-by-invest­ment scheme is the longest-run­ning pro­gram in the world and offers two avenues to a new pass­port.

    The cheap­er option requires a $250,000 con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try’s Sug­ar Indus­try Diver­si­fi­ca­tion Foun­da­tion. Start­ed in 2006, it aims to shift the coun­try from a sug­ar-depen­dent to a ser­vice-ori­ent­ed econ­o­my.

    Real estate invest­ment — and a high­er $400,000 invest­ment — is the sec­ond route to cit­i­zen­ship. A gov­ern­ment web­site con­ve­nient­ly lists near­ly 60 approved devel­op­ments — with allur­ing names like Sun­dance Ridge, Calyp­so Bay and Windswept Res­i­dence.

    Any­one in the world can apply for cit­i­zen­ship, save one coun­try: Iran. Iran­ian nation­als had been eli­gi­ble until late 2011 when the Prime Min­is­ter’s Office sus­pend­ed the pro­gram after Ira­ni­ans stormed the British embassy in Tehran.

    When con­tact­ed by CNN, a St. Kitts and Nevis spokes­woman said the num­ber of appli­cants accept­ed under the cit­i­zen­ship-by-invest­ment pro­gram “is con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion that the CIU does not pro­vide to the pub­lic.”

    Hen­ley and Part­ners not­ed that “few pass­ports have been issued.”

    2. Domini­ca
    If you have less mon­ey to invest, Domini­ca is anoth­er trop­i­cal Caribbean des­ti­na­tion to con­sid­er.

    Not to be con­fused with the Domini­can Repub­lic, this island of just around 73,000 peo­ple has offered a cit­i­zen­ship-by-invest­ment scheme since 1993. Among four pack­age options, a sin­gle appli­cant invest­ment requires just a $100,000 deposit to the Nation­al Bank of Domini­ca, the coun­try’s largest finan­cial insti­tu­tion. The invest­ment amount dou­bles for a fam­i­ly of four.

    Appli­cants must be of “out­stand­ing char­ac­ter,” must wait “at least eight weeks” for approval and must have a “basic lev­el” of Eng­lish, accord­ing to Domini­ca’s web­site detail­ing the cit­i­zen­ship path.


    More than 2,000 fam­i­lies have gained cit­i­zen­ship through the scheme, accord­ing to Hen­ley and Part­ners.

    3. Antigua and Bar­bu­da

    While not yet offi­cial, this third Caribbean island nation may allow eco­nom­ic cit­i­zen­ship as soon as this sum­mer.

    After years of back and forth, the coun­try’s par­lia­ment final­ly passed their con­tro­ver­sial Cit­i­zen­ship-by-Invest­ment Pro­gram (CIP) Bill in March, accord­ing to local reports.

    Sim­i­lar to St. Kitts and Nevis, a $250,000 con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try’s Nation­al Devel­op­ment Fund or a $400,000 real estate invest­ment in approved devel­op­ments is required. A third option is a $1.5 mil­lion “busi­ness invest­ment” that allows an appli­cant to put mon­ey in gov­ern­ment-approved busi­ness­es.

    An addi­tion­al $50,000 appli­ca­tion fee and a so-called $7,500 “due dili­gence fee” exist on top of the invest­ment amount.

    If approved, new cit­i­zens will enjoy visa-free access to near­ly 120 coun­tries, which include the Unit­ed King­dom, France and Cana­da.

    4. Aus­tria
    In Europe, Aus­tria stands as the lone coun­try where cit­i­zen­ship by invest­ment is pos­si­ble, accord­ing to Hen­ley and Part­ners.

    The route, tak­en by few and accom­plished by even few­er, can hap­pen for “ren­der­ing excep­tion­al ser­vices in the inter­est of the Repub­lic,” accord­ing to an Aus­tri­an gov­ern­ment web­site. One such ser­vice that has cleared pri­or clients, added Hen­ley & Part­ners, is a direct invest­ment of $10 mil­lion — a claim report­ed­ly refut­ed by an Aus­tri­an gov­ern­ment spokes­woman based in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

    Still, suc­cess­ful appli­cants for Aus­tri­an cit­i­zen­ship can live in a coun­try whose cap­i­tal, Vien­na, ranked as the world’s best city for qual­i­ty of life in a 2012 Mer­cer sur­vey.

    But you get what you pay for: Aus­tria, with its 50% per­son­al income tax rate, ranks among one of the high­est in the world. A workaround, accord­ing to Hen­ley & Part­ners, is sim­ply to live else­where in Europe. Only Aus­tri­an cit­i­zens who actu­al­ly reside in the coun­try are sub­ject to tax­es.

    An Aus­tri­an pass­port eas­i­ly gives that option by open­ing many bor­ders. The coun­try is a mem­ber of the Schen­gen Area with its 26 coun­tries span­ning most of west­ern Europe shar­ing com­mon bor­ders with­out immi­gra­tion con­trol — not to men­tion more than 160 coun­tries in total around the world — on par with Aus­tralia and Cana­da.

    5. Hong Kong

    While cit­i­zen­ship-by-invest­ment in Hong Kong is not a pos­si­bil­i­ty, res­i­den­cy-by-invest­ment is. And this Chi­nese ter­ri­to­ry’s tax rate of just 15% stands as one of this city’s biggest draws.

    “In all of Asia, in terms of free­dom to move cap­i­tal, tax­a­tion and res­i­den­cy require­ments, Hong Kong would be the best choice,” said Den­ny Ko, Man­ag­ing Part­ner at Hen­ley and Part­ners in Hong Kong.

    Under Hong Kong’s Cap­i­tal Invest­ment Entrant Scheme, or CIES, an invest­ment of about $1.3 mil­lion gives appli­cants res­i­den­cy rights. You can buy stocks in com­pa­nies list­ed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, debt secu­ri­ties in air­port or rail­way com­pa­nies or cer­tifi­cates of deposits that mature after just one year.


    Near­ly 18,000 peo­ple have gained res­i­den­cy by invest­ment in Hong Kong. To main­tain per­ma­nent res­i­den­cy sta­tus, just one vis­it every three years is required.

    In 2012, human resources con­sul­tan­cy ECA Inter­na­tion­al ranked Hong Kong as Asi­a’s third most liv­able city, with Syd­ney com­ing in sec­ond.

    6. Sin­ga­pore
    How­ev­er Sin­ga­pore ranked as Asi­a’s num­ber one liv­able city in 2012, accord­ing to ECA Inter­na­tion­al.

    Sim­i­lar to Hong Kong, the Lion City’s per­son­al income tax rates are among the low­est in Asia — rang­ing from 15% to 20% depend­ing on income brack­et, accord­ing to audit­ing firm KPMG.

    But “for Sin­ga­pore, it would not be so easy” to become a per­ma­nent res­i­dent, said Jacque­line Low, COO at immi­gra­tion ser­vices firm Janus. “The cri­te­ria are quite high.”

    Poten­tial appli­cants must have a three-year track record of busi­ness and entre­pre­neur­ial expe­ri­ence, Low add. They must also prove past prof­itabil­i­ty — annu­al rev­enues of some $160 mil­lion in real estate and con­struc­tion-relat­ed indus­tries or rev­enues of about $40 mil­lion for all oth­er indus­tries, includ­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

    With such foun­da­tions, can­di­dates can then apply to Sin­ga­pore’s sole track to per­ma­nent res­i­den­cy, the Glob­al Investor Pro­gram. This scheme requires an invest­ment of near­ly $2 mil­lion. The funds can go towards start­ing a new busi­ness or expand one already in oper­a­tion. Mon­ey can also be rout­ed to an approved list of funds that help grow tar­get­ed indus­tries rang­ing from nan­otech­nol­o­gy, health­care and clean ener­gy.


    The Sin­ga­pore­an gov­ern­ment does not release infor­ma­tion on the num­bers of can­di­dates or suc­cess­ful GIP appli­cants, says Janus’ Low. How­ev­er, since the mid­dle of 2012 she notes “Sin­ga­pore’s immi­gra­tion poli­cies have been tight­ened across the board because of the sen­ti­ments on the ground” — a ref­er­ence to grow­ing pub­lic unease over the num­ber of migrants to the city.

    The num­ber of appli­cants that Janus has seen have “fall­en con­sid­er­ably over the past year,” she added, but the qual­i­ty of appli­cants has risen.

    For appli­cants who are suc­cess­ful, how­ev­er, per­ma­nent res­i­den­cy is a path­way to Sin­ga­pore­an cit­i­zen­ship after just two years. A Sin­ga­pore­an pass­port gives access to more than 160 coun­tries around the world — just five less than the Unit­ed States, accord­ing to Hen­ley and Part­ners.

    7. Aus­tralia

    If you have mon­ey to burn and want to go down under for per­ma­nent res­i­den­cy and poten­tial cit­i­zen­ship, then Aus­trali­a’s Sig­nif­i­cant Investor Visa is the way to start.

    Launched in Novem­ber 2012, the pro­gram tar­gets high net-worth indi­vid­u­als and requires a rough­ly $4.7 mil­lion invest­ment. Appli­cants can invest in gov­ern­ment bonds, infra­struc­ture projects or pri­vate com­pa­nies.

    In return — and in as lit­tle as three months — a sig­nif­i­cant investor visa can be issued. After four years, hold­ers can apply for per­ma­nent res­i­den­cy.

    From the pro­gram’s launch through May, more than 170 appli­ca­tions have been filed. If all are giv­en the green light, Aus­tralia will receive $850 mil­lion in new for­eign invest­ment.


    Hope­ful­ly, now the Mal­ta is bring­ing in some extra cash, there will be more resources avail­able for the immi­grants that can’t afford Hen­ley & Part­ner’s glob­al ser­vices. Hope­ful­ly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 6, 2014, 7:32 pm

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